PLYMOUTH’S predicament at the foot of the Premier table worsened when they were on the receiving end of an eight-wicket defeat at Sidmouth.
Fiazan Riaz hit 123 as Plymouth totaled 202 for nine in their 50 overs – a score that always looked on the low side.
Sidmouth cruised to victory with more than 12 overs to spare with Devon captain Josh Bess leading the way with a century of his own,
Bess had already taken six Plymouth wickets for 25 runs, which he followed up with an unbeaten 105.
Sidmouth are up to fourth in the table now, still 31 points behind leaders Bovey Tracey going into the second half of the season.
Rivals captains are talking up Sidmouth’s chances of retaining the title they won last year, although skipper Luke Bess remains cagey on the subject.
“We are only halfway through the season and with such a long way to go you can’t say how it is going to end,” said Bess.
“Everyone is beating everyone this season, which will make it a close contest whoever wins it.
“Whoever wins the league, they will lose three or four games, it is that sort of division this year.”
Defeat leaves Plymouth 16 points adrift at the bottom of the table going into the second half of the season.
Plymouth’s early order performed a vanishing act as Bess made four of them disappear back to the pavilion for just 29 runs on the board.
Riaz, in after two overs, stopped the rot in a stand of 155 for the fifth wicket with Hal Kerton.
Kerton’s contribution to the stand was 54, which came off 119 balls and included just two boundaries.
Bess bowled Kerton in his second spell and added Steve Luffman first ball.
Dan Goodey came and went for one – Scott Barlow the bowler – then Will Murray had Riaz caught by a diving Declan Lines in the last over.
Plymouth achieved an early breakthrough when David Burke prised out Sidmouth opener Matt Cooke, but that was as good as it got for the city side.
Josh Bess and brother Luke (34) took a stand of 64 off Plymouth for the second wicket.
John Kerridge broke the stand, not that it did Plymouth any good.
Zak Bess – the third Bess brother – hit an unbeaten 49 off 40 balls as in an unbroken stand of 130 to win the match.
Josh Bess finished undefeated on 105, which included 14 fours and two soxes ad came off 117 deliveries.
Sam Stein, the Plymouth captain, said amid he wreckage of another defeat were signs the side is made of the right stuff.
“We always knew it was going to be a tough ask against Sidmouth, but we fought back well with the bat.
“Faz and Hal steadied the ship but we didn’t score enough runs as a team.
“Josh Bess had a good day so fair play to him.
“We know we've got an important second half of the season to come and teams around us aren't too far away.
“We have got to show what we are about and get back to winning games of cricket.”